This week Royal Navy frigate HMS Somerset has hoisted the recently endorsed Somerset county flag from its yardarm for the first time in an operational setting. The flag was flown during Exercise Joint Warrior.
The red dragon on a yellow background is flown throughout Replenishment at Sea evolutions and during other operational activities when a unique identifier is required.
The Somerset county flag was presented to HMS Somerset by the Chairman of Somerset County Council in July 2013 after the design was chosen by public vote.
The flag stood out proud against the blue Hebridian skies in Scotland as HMS Somerset pulled up alongside RFA Orangeleaf for a replenishment of fuel and vital stores.
The ability to Replenish at Sea, or RAS, is crucial to Royal Navy operations, it means warships do not need to return to port for fuel and supplies, allowing them to remain at sea for as long as needed.
HMS Somerset’s Commanding Officer, Commander Mike Smith Royal Navy said,
“When we hoist the flag of our affiliated county on occasions such as this HMS Somerset takes on a unique identity.
“The colourful flag adds a splash of colour to an operational setting, while also reminding us of our proud links with the County of Somerset which we prize highly”.
For Commander Smith and six other members of the Ship’s Company, who live in the County of Somerset, the flag has extra meaning when flown while away from home on operations.
Exercise Joint Warrior is the final stage of HMS Somerset’s transition from the depths of a refit in 2012 to operational readiness ahead of deploying East of Suez next year.
The exercise is designed to test all aspects of a ship’s capability in company with other Royal Navy and NATO warships.
HMS Somerset (F82) is a Type 23 Frigate. She is optimized for Anti-Submarine Warfare, but also has an armament of Sea Wolf and Harpoon Missiles, alongside 4.5 inch and 30mm guns, making her capable of tackling a variety of missions.
Somerset has an embarked Lynx Mk8 helicopter and is powered by electric motors to make her quiet or gas turbines to allow rapid transit to wherever she is needed. The crew of 185 men and women are trained, motivated and proud to serve on the West Country’s favourite warship.
Press Release, October 23, 2013; Image: Royal Navy